About this artwork
The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.
Portraits with Divine Ancestors
In place of human ancestors, some rulers substituted real or mythic heroes or even the gods as their
progenitors. Caesar claimed that the goddess Venus, pictured on this coin, was the tribal mother of the Julian dynasty.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium
- Ancient Roman
- Denarius (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Venus
- Italy (Object made in)
- 47 BCE–46 BCE
- Diam.: 1.9 cm (3/4 in.)
- Gift of William F. Dunham